District staff have been working for months to relocate non-profit groups that will be impacted by the second phase of the Residences on 6th seniors housing project but the shortage in community facility space is making it a difficult task, Peachland council heard last Tuesday.
District staff have been working with the affected tenants since June, when it was announced that the Peachland Seniors Support Society’s (PSSS) proposal to build a second phase of the Residences on 6th was approved under the BC Housing Community Housing Fund.
The seniors housing society began working with BC Housing around 2006 and in 2019 phase one of the project was completed.
The society plans to construct the 68-unit five-storey phase two building on the District of Peachland-owned property on 5th Street, immediately adjacent to the phase one project.
That means the Peachland Wellness Centre, Peachland Community Police (also home to the Peachland Lions Club) and the Peachland Food Bank, along with a couple of houses, will either be demolished or moved to make way for the new structure.
“Community facility space is limited in Peachland,” said director of community services Cheryl Wiebe in her report to council presented Tuesday night. “In fact, both the Peachland Economic Impact Analysis (2012) and the Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2018) indicated that population growth is going to continue to put an incredible amount of pressure on community facilities.”
One of the two residential tenants has already moved into the Residences on 6th and the second tenant has given notice and will move out by the end of the year, said Wiebe.
Acceptable solutions have also been found for the Peachland Food Bank and Peachland Community Police.
While it’s smaller than the space they require, the boxing club area of Fourth Street Place could house Peachland Food Bank (although they would be lacking food storage space) and the Peachland Community Police could move to a small, unused office in the Fifty Plus Activity Centre that has outside access and would require only minor renovations to accommodate their needs.
The Peachland Community Police do not have access to external funding to support renovations and as such, the cost will be the responsibility of the district, said Wiebe, adding that both the operators of the Fifty Plus Activity Centre (the Peachland and District Retirement Society) and the Peachland Community Police are supportive of the recommendation.
But finding new homes for the rest of the non-profit groups is proving to be a more difficult challenge.
The Peachland Wellness Centre is currently working with the PSSS and the consultants for the project to see if they can occupy a space in the new building.
However, as BC Housing will not financially support an auxiliary/discretionary space, the wellness centre will need to fundraise or find another financial option to fund the annual lease portion.
Staff currently have no recommendations about where to house the Peachland Lions Club and Peachland Rotary Club.
“The district has reached a pinch point in terms of space. While discretionary space has been available for the past 10-15 years, that space is now being allocated to its intended purpose – seniors housing,” said Wiebe.
Should an agreement not be made between PSSS and PWC, Wiebe said the district may want to engage a consultant to look to other options, including a core services review to determine what core programs and services should be provided in Peachland facilities as well as a facility program and space planning audit to revisit some lease agreements and consider another model of shared space.
What Peachland council thought of Wiebe’s report remains unknown for now, because before discussion could begin Coun. Patrick Van Minsel asked his council colleagues if they could have an in-camera meeting in two weeks to discuss the project.
Councillor Keith Fielding, also the PSSS president, moved the recommendation and noted that there is a lot of confidential information as well as information BC Housing will not allow them to discuss publicly without their prior permission.